THINGS IMAGINED IN GREAT DETAIL BECOME LIKE, REAL
How did you learn that you’re good at some things and not good at others? You experienced success and failure from your earliest years and you built beliefs about yourself based on these experiences, and on the way people reacted to you. For example, during your first years at school, if you excelled in art, your work was praised. If you repeatedly bungled math problems, you were reproved. You learned, from experience and other people’s reactions, that you were a good artist and a bad mathematician. Consciously and unconsciously, you developed your self-picture from your experiences and the input of others.
If you have a poor self-image in any area of your life because of past negative experiences, there is good news! You can improve your self-image by creating new, positive experiences to replace the old ones.
You may ask, “Can beliefs from a past which is riddled with failure and nearly void of successes be changed years later?” Absolutely! Studies show that one is never too young nor too old to change negative beliefs and start living a joyous life.
The key is in the way you acquired your positive self beliefs in the first place: by positive experiences. Now here’s some great news: Positive Experiences Can Be Simulated; They Can be Created “Artificially” in Our Minds!
You see, the very nature of the human brain and nervous system allows you to literally create experiences in your mind. Experimental and clinical psychologists have proven:
- The nervous system cannot tell the difference between an ACTUAL experience and an experience IMAGINED IN GREAT DETAIL.
- Your nervous system reacts obediently to what you think or imagine to be true – whether it’s actually true or not. In other words, people always feel, act and behave according to what theyimagine to be true about themselves and their circumstances.
We all possess the ability to create images in our minds. By realizing that our feelings and behavior are a result of what we imagine to be true, we can change these feelings and behavior by changing our mental pictures.
Dr. Maxwell Maltz was one who discovered these truths, through a number of experiments. Dr. Maltz wrote:
In the experiment, there were 3 groups of free-throw-shooting basketball players.
- The first group practiced throwing free-throws every day for 20 days – 20 minutes a day.
- The second group never practiced (they were tested on their free-throw shooting ability, like each group, on the first and last days).
- The third group never touched a ball. Instead, they spent 20 minutes each day for 20 days just IMAGINING they were sinking free throws. They imagined it in great detail.
The result? The first group improved 24%. The second group didn’t improve at all. The third group – the boys who just imagined the ball going through the hoop – improved 23%!
In the April, 1955 issue of Reader’s Digest, an article by Joseph Phillips told about how the great, undefeated chess champion Capablanca lost the championship to a rather obscure player named Alekhine. The chess world was stunned by the upset. Phillips told how Alekhine had trained for the match, “very much like how a boxer conditioned himself for a fight. He retired to the country, cut out smoking and drinking and did calisthenics. And for three months, Alekhine played chess only in his mind,’ preparing for the moment when he would meet the champion.”
I PRACTICE IN MY HEAD
Here’s another example: Artur Schnabel was a world famous pianist. He took lessons for only seven years. Artur explained that he hated practicing for any length of time at an actual keyboard. When questioned about his limited amount of practicing, as compared with other concert pianists, Schnabel said, “I practice in my head.”
C. G. Kop, of Holland, was a recognized authority on teaching piano. He recommended that all pianists “practice in their heads.” A new composition, he said, should be first memorized and played in the mind before ever touching fingers to the keyboard.
Alex Morrison, a world-famous golf instructor, actually worked out a system of mental practice. It enables the golfer to improve his score by sitting in an easy chair, and practicing mentally. Morrison said, “The mental side of golf represents 90% of the game. The physical side 8%, and the mechanical side 2%.” Morrison told how he taught Lew Lehr to break 90 for the first time, with no actual practice whatsoever. The golf instructor explained that “you simply need to have a clear, detailed mental picture of the correct process. You must ’see in your mind’ where you want the ball to go, and have the confidence to know that it is going to do what you want. Then, in your actual golf game, your subconscious mind takes over and directs your muscles correctly. If your grip is wrong, or your stance isn’t in the best form, your subconscious will take care of that by directing your muscles to do whatever is necessary to compensate for the error in form.”
Every Accomplishment Created First in Imagination
Dr. Maltz explained that successful men and women have, since the beginning of time, used “mental pictures” and “rehearsal practice” to achieve success.
- Napoleon, for example, “practiced” soldiering in his imagination for many years before he ever went out onto an actual battlefield.
- General Norman Schwarzkopf, in an interview after the victory in the Persian Gulf War, described how he played out his battle plans in his mind before committing troops to combat.
- Gymnastics champion Mary Lou Retton has described how she rehearsed every routine in her mind, visualizing every step, every leap and turn, every hand placement before putting her body through an actual performance.
- Conrad Hilton imagined himself operating a hotel long before he ever bought one.
- Henry Kaiser said that each of his business accomplishments was realized in his imagination before it appeared in actuality.
- Juliet McComas, concert pianist, said, “If I visualize the keyboard, I can practice in an airport or at my kitchen table. It’s just as useful as actual practice.”
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, movie star, and Governor of California, maintains, “As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can. I visualized myself being there already, having achieved the goal already.”
Form a picture in your imagination and “see” yourself succeed – repeatedly and in great detail.
~ Dr. Paula